No Small Plan Update, Part Two

Words by The Thankyou Team
28 November, 2023

What happens when you do a global call-out to two of the biggest companies in the world, and they say…no?

In 2020, we launched ‘No Small Plan.’ An idea “too big” for a world “too broken.”

No Small Plan was an idea that we believe could change the course of history. We were on the search for some scale partners to help take our social enterprise to global scale, quickly.  We sent a public invitation to two of the biggest product companies in the world, P&G and Unilever, and 9 of their competitors, asking if they’d partner with us to take Thankyou to the world by making and distributing Thankyou products. While a lot of the world's biggest companies were wrestling with purpose, at Thankyou, we were wrestling with how to build global scale. This was an invitation to flip business as usual to help to end extreme poverty. Our quest – find any partners around the world brave enough to help us on this mission.

The campaign received a mindblowing 2.67 billion media impressions globally, with 828 media features in 35 countries, with consumers all around the world showing their support. We planned the end of this campaign to be 5-weeks after launch, which transformed into a 105-week journey full of more twists and turns than we ever expected (great content for the book, Chapter Two, so we told ourselves most days).

For the first 24 hours, it was radio silence.

In the first 24 hours, we hadn’t heard from either of the two big companies we reached out to. But some of their competitors reached out at warp speed, putting cases forward of why we should consider them to be our partner.

One of our favourite comments during the first week of the campaign came from a lady who simply said, “thank you.”. She went on to explain that as a big multinational, they get charged with looking into local acquisitions. For years, they had talked about approaching Thankyou, but she always stopped the approach as she felt if they acquired Thankyou, it would take away from what we’d built. Her Thank you was because we found a way. She said that there are so many people in big business who want to do good, and she was grateful we were proposing a way forward. She said she thought this campaign was bigger than them, Unilever and P&G combined. We couldn’t agree more.

They said no.

And we wish them all the best. These were no’s, not because they are monsters. But we were asking a lot. Global commitment to roll out. No ownership. And the list went on.

Then we said no. 

Of the many twists and turns that No Small Plan took, this one tested us. One of the offers that were put forward by one of the biggest companies in the world (outside P&G and Unilever) was so compelling - A huge investment into our next country launch ($50M) and an intention, on success, to take this to more markets. But the exchange was something that has always been off the table at Thankyou - equity. Thankyou is owned 100% by our charitable trust. No founders get equity, no investors, and no multinational companies, even if they are offering the world. There have been many ‘golden ticket’ moments over the Thankyou journey. But on that final call, when we said no, both parties agreed Thankyou was taking the hard road, the road less travelled. And that is often the path we find ourselves on.

Then we found our yes’s.

While we received our no’s from some and gave our’s to others, we couldn’t unsee the flood of independent manufacturers, distributors, innovators - some with world-leading innovation - and retailers - including some of the biggest in the world reaching out to explain that while they weren’t Unilever or P&G, here’s what they could do. The common thread? No one wanted to own or change Thankyou. They just wanted to find a way to take it further.

The result? A reminder that the twists in the path and the destination aren’t always what we expect (but, in fact, could be better).

After many conversations with this group, we called ‘the revolutionists’, our path became clear. With an integrated network of partners, we could get Thankyou into tens of thousands of retail stores around the world as well as build significant in-market direct-to-consumer eCommerce channels, which would expand our access from 27 million people (Australian and NZ population) to over 2 billion consumers in the next 3 years.

When will Thankyou be available in my country?

A great question – but we’ve learnt from our mistakes. When we launched into New Zealand, we gave dates, times and detailed plans. And on launch day, we got smashed.

We won’t be repeating that again.

One day, country by country, Thankyou will begin to appear. And, on that day, we’ll hit with as much surprise as we can and with as few details as possible shared publicly for competitors to plan for.

We look forward to the impact that this will allow us to create, together.

Discover Thankyou’s Reimagined range in Australia

For now, for those in Australia, our reimagined range of personal care products is available to shop online. On top of our hand and body wash, baby wipes and hand sanitiser, we’ve leapt into the world of cleaning products and have brought to you our very own natural origin, 48-hour antiperspirant deodorant.